Haikai

As a poet working with English-language versions of Japanese forms such as haiku, haibun, senryu, and tanka, I am interested in the Japanese history of these forms and the incorporation of these forms into other literary traditions including those of the U.S., Britain, Mexico, and Canada.

Presentations allow me to engage with others who share some of these poetry and research interests. An aspect of haiku I am currently considering is how it relates to care. My work is informed by the feminist philosopher, Maurice Hamington, and I presented a paper on care and haiku at the Seabeck Haiku Getaway Schedule in Seabeck, Washington fall 2015. The discussion that followed helped me begin to see where this work might fit into a larger project Maurice and I are working on involving care and poetry. A revised version of the paper was read at the American Literature Association Conference in San Francisco in May 2016. Maurice and I then collaborated on revising the paper into an article. The article, “A Careful Poetics,” is forthcoming in March 2017 in Juxtapositions.

Haiku written by African-American poets is also an area of considerable interest to me. I’ve analyzed haiku written by Sonia Sanchez, Lenard D. Moore, and Richard Wright as well as haiku written by Etheridge Knight.

My work on Sanchez’s haiku is forthcoming in May 2017 in “Reflections of the ‘Haiku Mind’: Formal Innovation in Sonia Sanchez’s Haiku Sequences.” This essay will appear in the collection Sonia Sanchez’s Poetic Spirit through Haiku, edited by John Zheng.

The paper on Moore’s haiku sequences that I delivered at the American Literature Association in 2012 eventually developed into the article, “Sequences of Events: African-American Communal Narratives in the Haiku of Lenard D. Moore.” It appears in the collection, African American Haiku: Cultural Visions, also edited by John Zheng. Jerry Ward reviewed the book in Southern Quarterly and also shared it on his blog.

In 2015, I shared my paper, “Richard Wright’s Haiku and Imagism,” on a panel about haiku by Richard Wright and Jack Kerouac at the 2015 MLA Convention in Vancouver BC. The paper examines the ways in which Wright’s haiku disrupt the Orientalist discourse perpetuated by some Imagist poetry.

With Toru Kiuchi and Yoshinobu Hakutani after our panel.

With Toru Kiuchi and Yoshinobu Hakutani after our panel.

I consider much of Etheridge Knight’s work more closely related to senryu and include analysis of his poems in I have also considered one part of the senryu tradition in America initiated by Issei and Nisei in my article, “Written in the Face of Adversity: The Senryu Tradition in America.” I am grateful to the work of Terruko Kumei for her translations of many senryu by early Japanese immigrants to the Pacific Northwest.

I appreciated the opportunity to interview artist Rebecca Lowry because she incorporates haiku into many of her projects, including an installation of “street signs” in West Hollywood.

Los-Angeles-Haiku-Sign-3-500x374

This interview appeared in Frogpond and includes many additional examples of Lowry’s object-based poems that incorporate haiku.

I reference Lowry’s projects again as a contrast to public art that uses pseudo haiku and further perpetuates the Orientalist discourse that informed Modernist poets’ engagement with haiku and other Japanese forms. Mike Chasar published this critique on his Poetry and Popular Culture blog.

I have also examined haiku and other work by José Juan Tablada. Tablada is often considered the person who first introduced haiku into the Spanish language. At the very least, he gave Spanish-language versions of the form widespread visibility. In a two-part article in Modern Haiku, “An Introduction to José Juan Tablada,”I look specifically at Tablada’s haiku. In an article published in Colloquy: Text, Theory, Critique I look at the influence of translation on Tablada’s work.

As part of my work with haikai, I also served as a regional coordinator and then as president of the Haiku Society of America, I am currently a board member for the American Haiku Archives, and I am the book review editor for the peer-reviewed journal of haiku scholarship, Juxtapositions.

Image of Juxtapositions logo

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